When Your Art is Really Cooking

Posted: October 3, 2014 in The Store

As a part time artist (I still work for a living), I am sometimes asked how to go about painting a good picture.  I used to respond with the basics, composition, technique, color, depth and all that good stuff. CanvasOver the years I began using cooking as a metaphor, since one of my sons is an executive chef.  In observing him at work I saw some practical comparisons to painting.

First off, here is the danger in asking someone else how to paint a good picture.  I discovered this while trying out one of my son’s recipes.  From a practical standpoint, carefully following his recipe should get me the same result he achieves.  Should look good, smell good, and hopefully, taste good. After all, when I started out painting and drawing years ago, I followed the step by step instructions of art teachers in a studio setting as well as from books. By copying the artist’s techniques I did get the same outcome in the painting.  In some case I followed the directions and techniques so well; my painting was virtually the same as the instructors’.  It was for all intents and purposes, his painting, reproduced by me.

But (yes there’s always a, but), something was missing.  I noticed this in following my son’s recipe for a meal.  It looked pretty much the same, smelled the same and the taste was, well, let’s say close enough. Both the Crab Meatmeals and the paintings turned out lacking.  Then I remembered something my mom used to say when she cooked (and she was masterful at it). “You have to love the food as you prepare it.  When you prepare a meal, you do so through love.”  Suddenly that truism came to life for me.

A painting, like a meal, isn’t about the technique, it’s about your own hands and eyes creating something that you feel really good about.  Technique doesn’t make a good painting or a good meal.  It’s the heart that brings it to life.  That sense of heart is where your own style and sensibilities will come from. Now, I realize we have to emulate to learn, but at some point the training wheels need to come off.

By looking deeply and responding to the beauty or the information the world around you conveys will inspire you to create art that is true to you and will engage others.  That is what is difficult to learn, not the techniques.  Okay, grab a crab meat croissant and get to the canvas. That painter within is hungry!

A.S. Pirozzoli

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